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State VB preview: Undefeated Rural set to launch 6A title bid

By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

Washburn Rural's volleyball team knows that its perfect 38-0 record and No. 8 national ranking won't mean a whole lot to opponents once the Junior Blues step on the court this weekend for the Class 6A state tournament at Tony's Pizza Events Center in Salina.

But the Junior Blues are also confident that if they perform at the level they have all season they're going to be hard to beat.

And after close calls the past two seasons -- a runner-up finish in 2019 and a third-place showing a year ago -- Rural is bound to be highly-motivated to get the job done this time around.   

"We all have been working so hard for it, so we're definitely so motivated this year because we have an amazing team and we just know that if we play our best, then really no team can stand with us,'' Washburn Rural junior star Brooklyn DeLeye said.

Ruralsub state1Washburn Rural's volleyball team will take a 38-0 record and No. 8 national ranking into this weekend's Class 6A state tournament at Salina. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

On the flip side, veteran Rural coach Kevin Bordewick said there are several teams in the talented 6A field capable of knocking off the Junior Blues "if we don't show up and play the way we should.''

Washburn Rural, which will be shooting for the eighth state title in program history, dominated last Saturday's sub-state tournament at Rural, taking a 25-10, 25-10 win over city rival Topeka High in the semifinals before winning the championship with a 25-5, 25-9 win over Garden City.

Rural is the No. 1 seed for the state tournament and will open its state bid at 4:30 p.m. Friday with a Pool I match against No. 8 seed Olathe Northwest (24-11), which took a three-set semifinal win over the Junior Blues a year ago on the way to a second-place finish.

The Junior Blues will then face No. 5 seed Shawnee Mission Northwest (31-8) at 6:30 p.m. before closing out pool play with an 8:30 match against No. 4 seed Hutchinson (33-5).

Wichita Northwest is the No. 2 seed at 39-1 and is in Pool II along with No. 6 seed and defending state champ Blue Valley West (28-9), No. 3 seed Blue Valley North (35-2) and No. 7 seed Free State (24-9).

"I really think Blue Valley North and Blue Valley West are very good and Olathe Northwest has been playing really well right now, and then kind of the sleeper is Shawnee Mission Northwest,''  Bordewick said.

DeLeye and fellow junior Taylor Russell have played key roles for Rural in the state tournament the past two two seasons while senior Katelynn Brogan, junior Katie Borough and sophomores Zoe Canfield and Jada Ingram are also battle-tested at state.

Washburn Rural has posted wins this season over four of the other seven schools in the state field.

The top two finishers in both pools will advance to 1 p.m. semifinals on Saturday, followed by the championship and third-place matches.

CLASS 6A STATE VOLLEYBALL

At Tony's Pizza Events Center, Salina

FRIDAY POOL PLAY

Pool I (Court A)

3:30 p.m. -- Hutchinson (4: 33-5) vs. Shawnee Mission Northwest (5: 31-8).

4:30 -- Washburn Rural (1: 38-0) vs. Olathe Northwest (8: 24-11).

5:30 -- Hutchinson vs. Olathe Northwest.

6:30 -- Washburn Rural vs. Shawnee Mission Northwest.

7:30 -- Shawnee Mission Northwest vs. Olathe Northwest.

8:30 -- Washburn Rural vs. Hutchinson.

Pool II (Court B)

3:30 p.m. -- Blue Valley North (3: 35-2) vs. Blue Valley West (6: 28-9).

4:30 -- Wichita Northwest (2: 39-1) vs. Free State (7: 24-9).

5:30 -- Blue Valley North vs. Free State.

6:30 -- Wichita Northwest vs. Blue Valley West.

7:30 -- Blue Valley West vs. Free State.

8:30 -- Wichita Northwest vs. Blue Valley North.

SATURDAY

1 p.m. -- Semifinals

(Consolation and championship matches will begin 25 minutes after last semifinal has concluded)